Harvard MBA Success Story: Low GPA and Low GMAT

Before we look into the profile of a successful HBS MBA candidate, let me remind you to have a look at: how to get into HBS.

Candidate: “I started my career in a low-key branch at a MBB consulting firm in eastern Europe. Prior to that I received a master’s degree in a regionally well-known eastern European university in engineering. I worked at the MBB consulting firm for about four-and-a-half years. During this time I received a couple of promotions, and showed very steady career growth. I’m sure therefore that my LoRs which came from my line-manager and the Director of our team were solid. I had a low GPA and a low GMAT, still got into HBS because of my work experience”


Summary: European 28 year old female, with a master’s degree in engineering.

1. GMAT: 690
2. GPA: 3.0/4.0 (European)
3. Work Experience: 54 months at the time of application
4. Employer: MBB Consulting, low-key European branch
5. Extra-Curricular: Triathlon with several national awards; Women’s Self-Help network founder/convener reaching about 28,000 women in Euro-Zone; Actor/Drama performer with performances in well-known productions

Post-MBA Objective: “Moving to upper management in the present MBB firm and Setting up own consultancy in eastern Europe in the long term.”

hbs with low gpa and low gmat

This is one of those profiles which gives the reader a lot of hope, however on close observation we know this is a very rare background and talented candidate. Diversity in extra-curriculars ranging from on the sports field (Triathlon) to more artistic pursuits in Drama/Theatre is certainly commendable. ‘Couple of promotions’ at an MBB in four-and-a-half years shows strong work-ethic and easily compensates for the ack of a strong GMAT, although 690 is not too bad.

GPA is below-average by American standards, but how does it compare with similar European candidates? Also prestige regional university may have been overrated by adcoms. Some European universities such as the French Grandé Ecole and the German TU9 systems command respect. But I reckon this is an eastern European university? Nonetheless, lower GPAs may have been overlooked due to the branch of study being engineering (that too with a MS), prestige under-grad and great work-ethic, in a non-engineering job.

Another important factor, though I wouldn’t like to take the credit of a great profile (notwithstanding a low GPA and a slightly low GMAT) away from the candidate, is the mention of Eastern Europe. Now how many students apply to HBS each year from eastern Europe? Not too many, I guess. This might have presented you as an exotic catch to the HBS adcom, which like other schools is keen to enhance the diversity of their class.

Author: Marge Simpson

Marge is literally the gem in our crown. Marge ran a Euro MBA consulting business that helps candidates based in the EU, and particularly London and Paris to get into top B-Schools. Marge has retired (after making a ton of cash) from her MBA consulting business, and now just blogs about the (un)limited knowledge she has on MBA admissions in between taking holidays to exotic Euro destinations. Marge has a fairly decent record of consulting, she helped prep 25 Euro candidates who got into Harvard/Stanford/Wharton and about 125 Euro candidates in the top 10 International MBA schools. Ask these guys today, and they all are very grateful to Marge.

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